The Dassault Systemes And PTC Modeling Kernel Problem

I am given to understand that for many years Dassault Systems had been trying to get SolidWorks to stop licensing Parasolid as its modeling kernel from rival Siemens PLM (then UGS). When they didn’t see any meaningful progress on that front the top brass at Dassault Systemes finally lost patience and made some “changes” on the SolidWorks side of things. This was when the “Dassaultification” of SolidWorks started and is going on. The result is that new SolidWorks V6 is going to use CGM, the modeling kernel used by CATIA.

There is another company that is trying to consolidate the modeling kernels used in its products. And that is PTC. In its early days CoCreate used ACIS as its modeling kernel. Somewhere along the way the developers decided that they weren’t happy with the progress that Spatial was making with ACIS, decided to fork out the code and created their own version.

It looks like CoCreate (or as its now known, Creo/Elements Direct) will be euthanized sometime in the next few years. This is quite evident from what PTC’s DVP of Creo Product Development Mike Campbell stated in 2010 (see “The Future Of CoCreate“). The idea is to get customers to move to the newer Creo Direct, which is nothing but Pro/ENGINEER in a new suit (see “Creo Explained – Part 2“). Since Creo Parametric and Creo Direct are internally essentially the same, Creo Direct will use PTC’s Granite modeling kernel.

I have been in the data exchange business long enough to know the kind of problems that can crop up while converting geometry from one format to another. The problems turn worse when the two files come from CAD systems that use different modeling kernels that define geometry in different ways. Mapping the geometry accurately so that it comes up good on the other side is not a trivial problem.

Ideally customers should not be bothered by these internal workings of CAD system. In fact, that precisely is the line CAD vendors take when I ask them questions about their modeling kernels. A SolidWorks executive recently told me, “The only people who seem to have a problem with the modeling kernel change in SolidWorks are the CAD media“. I smiled and replied, “Actually no. People in the CAD media use word processors or type text into a browser. This doesn’t affect us at all. But it most definitely affects the people who read the stuff we write.